Navigating social media and disinformation amid world conflict

NOW: Navigating social media and disinformation amid world conflict


SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Many of us have been using social media to get real time updates on what’s going on in Ukraine. While we scroll, we see videos of what some users say is happening, but experts say you might want to think twice before you share.

Over the past 24 hours videos have been spreading on TikTok, along with photos on Twitter and Facebook, but despite their captions -- not one is actually showing the current Russian invasion.

Some videos aren’t even Ukraine – they're Gaza.

“This could lead to confusion among people within the country and this could disunite people," said Vivek Astvansh, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Indiana University.

Russia has a reputation of using disinformation to escalate conflicts.

Indiana University Assistant Professor Vivek Astvansh says Ukrainians are currently in a vulnerable position navigating social media just like we are —- so reposting or sharing videos could falsely spread Russian propaganda.

“When the need for information is high people want answers which makes them more gullible. There are not cynical now they just want to know what has happened. What label should we give it. Is it a crisis, invasion, attack, and what is going to happen? Is it going to lead a World War 3?," Astvansh said.

Assistant Professor of Operations at Indiana University, Antino Kim, says it’s important to make sure anything you’re posting is legitimate – and not just passively scrolling and sharing.

“They tend to use images or even videos and these may not be created in a technologically sophisticated fashion. Just simply taking an image or video out of context that could be a very effective tool in convincing people users of the attached story," Kim said.

Despite the potential dangers of disinformation, both experts agree social media provides some benefits like a viral video that showcases a heart wrenching goodbye between a father and daughter as he sends her to a safe zone.

Vivek tells ABC57 as you continue to navigate social media, question everything, and then try to assess before acting on it.

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